LEEDS, Alabama (April 2, 2013) – Ed Carpenter and his ECR/Fuzzy’s Vodka team heads into the picturesque Barber Motorsports Park this weekend (April 5-7) with high hopes after a solid performance at the IZOD IndyCar Series opener last week at St. Petersburg.
Carpenter, the 2012 season finale winner last September at Fontana, Calif., feels his young engineering staff of Matt Barnes, Brent Harvey, Ben Siegel and Joe Howard has made excellent progress with the team’s road racing setups after the first-year development of the new organization in 2012. Off-season work by the engineers in wind tunnel, simulation, gearbox and shaker-rig has assisted in the team’s process to give Carpenter a better machine at the road circuits.
In addition, Carpenter’s driving skills have been honed with the addition of veteran driving consultant Lee Bentham, a past Formula Atlantic champion.
“I feel like the team’s development was been gaining ground each time we hit the track,” said Carpenter, who made his debut run at Barber Motorsport Park last year. “The guys worked really hard over the winter to improve in many areas on the race car. The new Dallara DW12 was new to all of the teams last year. And the racing was very competitive. Now, with an off-season to work on the settings, you’ll see some additional improvements in 2013. I know that is the case at Ed Carpenter Racing.”
Carpenter, who didn’t begin road racing until 2006, has been closing the gap on the contenders in the road and street circuits. And the Butler University graduate hopes to continue his progress at the challenging 2.38-mile, 15-turn circuit just east of Birmingham.
“It felt very good to get back in the race car again at St. Petersburg,” he said. “The car was getting better during the race, but we suffered a broken front wing. So the car didn’t handle properly in the middle of the race. Finally, we got a new wing and I was able to get up to tenth. Unfortunately, the tires had a lot of laps on them and I couldn’t hold it. So we took home 14th. Better than last year there though.”
Carpenter knows there is a big difference in his car’s setups from the streets of St. Petersburg to the rolling hills of Barber Motorsports Park, but he is anxious to test the new changes for this weekend.
“I think our off-season test program, both on and off the track, has really helped us entering the 2013 season,” Ed said. “Our engineering staff and the crew members worked very hard in the winter to be ready for the season. So, I’m ready to get to Barber again. We learned some things in the recent test there too. Barber is a great facility and it will be great to back there.”
Racing against the big, multi-car teams is another difficult facet that Carpenter understands as his squad is a single-car operation. But he continues to see the development with his year-old team after just one race in 2013.
“I can really see the difference in our ECR/Fuzzy’s team from the beginning of last year to the beginning of 2013,” Carpenter explains. “We were still hiring guys and learning about the new Dallara chassis and the new Chevrolet engine. Now, with a full off-season, we had the opportunity to study a variety of areas to improve our team. We have a solid crew and a strong engineering staff, so I am very enthusiastic about the future of our team and organization. You can’t produce a winner overnight, but we did win in our initial season and that says a lot.”
Practice for Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama gets underway Friday at 12:45 p.m. CDT with qualifying Saturday morning at 10:25 a.m. CDT. The 90-lap feature event is set for Sunday at 2:40 p.m. CDT